By going through the preparation for markets and recent private order I had a chance to make ‘Shiro-An’ so I can finally post ‘How to Make’ it here.
‘Shiro-An’ is one of the main ‘An/Anko‘ Sweet Bean Pastes for Japanese Sweets which is made from white beans such as Butter Beans or White Kidney Beans. I used to think that it is just one type of Anko but since I started making wider range of Japanese Sweets I now realised that ‘Shiro-An’ is definitely the most important one among of all ‘Anko’ Sweet Bean Pastes.
Shiro-An is not just a tasty filling but it is also an essential ingredient for making Japanese sweet. Because it is 1. in white colour so that you can change it into any colour you want 2. having a very smooth texture, it is very versatile and basically it acts like a great shape shifter. It can be used in all sorts of sweets in disguise. My recent hit sweet ‘Ukishima’ and also ‘Nerikiri’ are just two examples that ‘Shiro-An’ is used into a different shape. Unless you are told you don’t realise.
So How do you make ‘Shiro-An (白あん)’/ White Bean Paste? Well, professionally it is a long process but I am going to show you the easier method. Some steps are omitted here but the product you get tastes very good. What you need is just patience and lot of care.
How to Make ‘Shiro-An’
- White Beans (Butter Beans/White Kidney Beans) 250g
- White Granulated Sugar 200g
*I use Butter Beans just because it’s big so that removing skin is easier.
Soak White Beans in a big bowl with plenty of fresh water overnight. Check whether the skin of beans are fully stretched out. If the skin is still crinkly let it soak a little longer
Place the soaked beans in a big cooking pan with plenty of fresh water on a hob and start heating it on a high heat. When it starts to boil *add a glass of cold water. Continue heating and boiling vigorously for a few minute. Lower the heat but keep boiling on a medium heat for 15 minute.
*adding cold water into boiling food is called ‘Sashi Mizu/ Bikkuri Mizu (Surprise Water)’. Cooling down the temperature suddenly results in cooking food evenly to the centre. This method is often used for cooking beans and noodle
When all the skin becomes stretched enough but beans are NOT completely cooked YET, switch off the heat and leave the beans in the water to cool down a little. When the beans becomes the temperature you can easily handle, start peeling off skin one by one.
*During this process make sure all beans are covered under water before and after peeling
Place all the peeled beans in the cooking pan and start re-boiling with plenty of fresh water on a high heat. Continue boiling on a medium heat until all the beans become soft enough to be squashed by pressing down
Drain beans and mash it up in a food processor.
*Blend 2-3 times by dividing beans into small quantity. You may need to add some water to make machine work smoothly
Start sieving the mashed beans by using a fine sieving mesh. If the sieved texture is still coarse sieve it once more by using a finer mesh
Mix the sieved Bean and White Sugar in a big cooking pot and start heating on a low heat. Keep stirring the bottom of the pan with a wooden spatula otherwise it gets burnt easily. Keep cooking the bean paste to thicken
*When thickening the bean mixture into a paste it sometime erupts like a volcano. Be careful not to be burnt! I burnt my hand!
When it is thickened and it stays like a small mountain on a spatula it is ready. Remove the pan from the heat.
Cool the Bean Paste on a tray by creating a few mounds.
*When it’s cooled down Bean Paste becomes hardened so do not thicken it too much
So that’s it! This is Shiro-An, the Sweet White Bean Paste. This is going to be the base of many Japanese Sweets.
The big difference in my recipe from any other one is that I remove skins when the beans are half cooked. Removing the beans’ skin is very fiddly and time consuming but I found that it is so much easier and takes less time if we remove skins when the beans are not yet completely cooked. Also the reason I use Butter Beans is for the same reason of reducing the time. Please try this way.
If you sieve beans only once make sure to use fine sieving mesh. You might think it saves time by using a coarse mesh but the coarse texture can be spotted in a final product. How smooth the texture is, is the key to Shiro-An. 😉
- When removing skins make sure that all the beans are submerged under water. If it is above water the skin hardens and it makes removing skin difficult.
- The leftover beans in a mesh can be used for another food. I freeze the coarse bean bits and use it for making some food like bean burgers later.